Water! Why It’s So Important
Our bodies are made of approximately 50% water. It is a well-known fact that in order to keep our bodies functioning properly, we need to constantly be replenishing that supply. On average, we lose about 2-3 quarts of water a day. This can vary depending on the time of the year, your activity level, and if you’re on medications. For seniors, it is especially important to be maintaining good hydration. As we grow older, it becomes easier to forget to drink water, one of the reasons is because our sense of thirst diminishes. Dehydration is actually one of the top reasons that the elderly end up going to the hospital. That’s why it is extremely important for the elderly to drink, drink, drink! Let’s look at more reasons on why drinking water can better your health.
- Prevent Sickness and Disease
Being dehydrated can actually be a major contributing factor to a lot of the diseases that those in their later years suffer from. Kidney problems, heart problems, diabetes, arthritis, joint pain, headaches, and asthma can all stem from not drinking enough water. Water lubricates the body, which would help your joints. And it also keeps your digestive and urinary systems running smoothly so you won’t suffer from things like constipation, UTI’s, and kidney stones. Water helps your body flush out the nasty toxins that create the health issues listed above.
- Gives Your Brain and Emotions A Boost
One of the things that happens when our bodies are dehydrated, is that our cells shrink. When this occurs in your brain, it can cause you to have a foggy mind, memory problems, and not be able to make decisions easily. So, drinking plenty of water can help keep your brain sharp! It will help you feel better mentally and emotionally. Studies show that those who drink more water are often in a way better mood!
What if you don’t like drinking water? What are ways to keep your body hydrated? I think we have all been there, where we are just sick of drinking plain water. I totally get it! Here are some tips to stay hydrated in other ways!
- Eat your fruits and veggies. There are actually lots of fruits and vegetables that contain high levels of water in them! Some of the top ones are oranges, cucumbers, tomatoes, watermelon, and grapes.
- Try switching your water up a bit. You don’t always have to stick with plain old water. Try things like changing the temperature of water you drink. Have some with ice and then with no ice. Add different fruits to your water, lemon, cucumber, watermelon or orange slices are usually a big favorite!
- Other alternatives to water could be drinking juice or having different soups or broths to give yourself something savory. Just try to avoid drinks that are high in caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, so it can actually dehydrate you more.
When living in an assisted living or nursing home, it can actually be harder sometimes to stay hydrated. Different things can contribute to this. If the facility is short staffed, it could be harder for the workers to meet everyone’s drinking needs. Or if the resident has any physical impairments that could cause them to need help to eat or drink, it could be harder for them to get enough fluid intake throughout the day. If you do have a loved one in an assisted living or nursing home, please keep checking up on them to make sure they are staying hydrated. Ask the nurse about how they are doing when it comes to their urine output. And about how much they are eating and drinking each day. The nurse should have it all in their charts. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions and stay proactive in your loved one’s life.
As we age, our skin changes. We notice little things at first. Perhaps it becomes drier, or we notice that it’s a bit more like crepe than it used to be. Wrinkles can be an issue & so can age spots. Skin grows thinner, especially on the hands and face because of a slowing in collagen production as we age. It’s a natural process, but there are certain things that we can do to slow the process down.
Hydration is extremely important when it comes to skin care. It’s one of the most important aspects of skin care, if not the most important, no matter your age. Our skin is comprised of almost 64% water. The problem is that we lose water out of our bodies at different rates throughout the course of a day. The most common advice when it comes to water consumption is 6-8 glasses of water per day. You must, however, not be bound to that number. If you are exerting a large amount of energy, or if the temperatures are higher, you must take that into consideration. Also, take into consideration whether you’ve been drinking caffeinated beverages. These are diuretics & can deplete your body of the water that it needs. The water helps our skin to stay supple and elastic, but it is not all that we need.
Collagen is produced in our bodies naturally. As we age, that production slows, but there are ways that we can increase that production so that our skin does less drying & wrinkling. Certain foods will help to improve your collagen production. Carrots, blueberries, sweet potatoes and dark, leafy greens are among a few, but it would be prudent to look up a full list & be sure to incorporate those foods into your diet. Also pay attention to those things which can deplete collagen in your body, like nicotine.
If you live in states that are notoriously dry, consider a humidifier. Dry air can be good for several ailments, but it can be very hard on the skin. In very northern states during the winter, the dry air can cause dryness, & even chapping to the point of bleeding. In these cases, it is probably best to consider a moisturizer that is suitable for your skin type. Remember, though, to also increase your water intake. You may not realize how much water you’re losing during a day when the air is terribly dry.
Lastly, consider the sun. Caring for your skin includes making sure it doesn’t get burnt. If you enjoy being out in the sun, wear a hat that covers your face, & also light cotton clothing that allows your skin to breathe. Be sure to go into the shade to cool off periodically, and, as always, re-hydrate!
None of these suggestions are akin with finding the fountain of youth, but they are sound, practical ways that you can improve your skin so that it can do its job of protecting you. We should show our thankfulness to this important organ of our bodies by caring for it in the best way that we know how!
In recent years fitness gurus have been touting how important hydration is for our health. You’ve probably seen the water bottles for sale on the internet that have times listed on the side so that you’re sure to drink a certain amount of water throughout the day to maintain proper fluid levels in your body for optimum health. Few people, however, realize that is even more important for elderly people to remain hydrated.
Why is it more important for the aging population? There are many factors that contribute to dehydration in the elderly, but we’ll just cover a few of the major ones. First, water levels in the human body decrease as we age. There is naturally less water in us as we grow older, & we need to be replenished more often. Secondly, medications often cause dehydration. While medications can help with a number of ailments, many of them also have dehydration as a side effect. Check with your doctor if this is something that you should be aware of so that you can be proactive in combatting the problem. Finally, as we age, our kidneys are often not able to function as well as they did when we were younger. This is just a natural part of growing older, but it does contribute to dehydration.
What can you do to stay hydrated sufficiently?
- Find ways to increase water intake. Set goals for yourself to drink a bit more water several times a day. Large quantities on an empty stomach can cause nausea, but try taking it in smaller doses several times a day and you might find it easier on your body. If you do not like tap water, try filtered water. If you need to, add some fruit into it for flavoring. Lemon or lime sliced & steeped in water with a few mint leaves can make a nice infusion. If you prefer hot drinks, try hot lemon water.
- Herbal teas. If you prefer even more flavor, you can increase your water intake without the side effects of caffeine by making herbal teas. There are so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that you enjoy.
- Eat fruit and vegetables. Both fresh fruit & fresh veggies have good amounts of water in them that will help contribute to your hydration. They also have the added benefit of adding fiber to your diet. Pay attention, of course, if you are a diabetic as some fruits may cause issues with your blood sugars.
- Stay out of intense heat. Because it is so easy for an older individual to become dehydrated without noticing, it’s best to stay out of very hot environments whenever possible. If you do need to be out in the heat, make sure that you wear hats that block the sun, stay in the shade and bring along a water bottle to drink. Force yourself to drink water even if you do not feel thirsty.
- Eat soups & stews. Soups can be eaten hot or cold, depending on preference. Broths can be sipped throughout the hour in the same way that you would sip tea, and if can increase mineral intake if prepared properly.
You may be surprised as you maintain healthy hydration levels at how many ailments are alleviated! There can be corrections in blood pressure, headaches may go away, dizziness may cease, infections may be flushed out of your system & energy levels may improve. It is certainly not a “cure-all”, but sometimes the small & overlooked things in life can have long reaching implications. So, start now! Go and drink a glass of water for your health!